“There is a lot of heart in the city of Hartford,” Mayor Segarra said during his Monday evening State of the City address. The speech lasted approximately thirty minutes and did not drop any major surprises.
After briefly noting that Hartford can and should do a better job of dealing with serious crime, Segarra moved on to mainly discuss the economy. He wanted to emphasize that “Hartford is open for business,” a clear contrast from the previous administration, saying “we’re not just going to shop Hartford[...]we have to grow Hartford.” Mayor Segarra called for “comprehensive tax reform” which would include “protect[ing] our residential taxpayers against catastrophic tax increases” and treating businesses more fairly so that no one group has to bear the burden.
The arts and heritage community, he said, drives the local economy. He turned toward the City Council, seated behind him, and urged them to continue supporting arts and cultural organizations, like Hartbeat Ensemble.
Segarra noted that there are sixty development projects within city, nine of which Segarra shared with Governor Malloy recently. In his speech, Segarra called attention to the Swift Factory, 101 Pearl Street, and Lyric Theater projects. He spoke to wanting to see a Puerto Rican heritage and culture center in the former Lyric Theater building. This morning, the Lyric Theater District subcommittee of the Frog Hollow NRZ met to discuss both the former Immaculate Conception Church at 560 Park Street and the old Lyric Theater building. At that meeting it was stressed that there is a need to develop the whole block of Park Street between Broad and Hungerford; a push was made to relocate the Park Branch of the Hartford Public Library to 560 Park (it’s now located in a tiny rental space at 744 Park), where the building might also house WIC offices and/or the Puerto Rican cultural center. The Lyric Theatre space is being pushed toward mixed use including retail. A walking tour of historical and cultural sites in Frog Hollow is slated for a Saturday in May 2011.
As Segarra drew connections between ways to stimulate the economy through reuse of existing structures, he also gave himself props for being fiscally conservative, reminding the audience that he “continue[s] to control spending” by not having a driver nor seeking reimbursement for his gas mileage. As you may recall, the former Mayor Perez had a driver who resigned after being caught driving with a suspended license.
Beyond the economy, the Mayor described “illegal guns, domestic violence, and truancy” as core issues in the city. Positive alternatives, he said, would help youth to make better choices about how to spend their time. Speaking of youth, Segarra declared that “Education is key. Education is the most important.” Another sign of difference between his style and that of his predecessor– Segarra welcomed Kishimoto, the soon-to-be Superintendent. There seems to be no grudge-holding with Segarra.
The Mayor looked at higher education as well, saying that the City needs to “reach out” to Capital Community College,” and that he hoped the UConn Graduate School of Social Work would consider relocating to the city.
Without sounding too much like an annoying cheerleader, Segarra said that now we have “a more transparent Hartford…a more positive Hartford”than before, calling it a “fun city” and “a great place to live.” Perhaps wanting to remind his audience about the new transparency, he promised that he “will continue to reach out to you.”
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
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